Saturday, June 19, 2010

Insanity at the Georgia Dept. of Transportation

Clowns. Mental midgets. Whores of taxpayer funds. You name it, Georgians will get it. Right in their wallets. Here it comes folks, one of the dumbest taxes you will ever have to live with. These bumbling good-ol-boys are at it again.

Just another reason to toss out every incumbent to try and get some sanity back in place. Kill this stupidity before it happens folks. The Georgia DOT, braind-dead. Read this and see if you can figure it out.........How about building some MARTA trains out to where people live? Try that for common-sense.

ATLANTA, Ga. -- Love 'em or hate 'em, here they come:

Toll lanes are on the way to Metro Atlanta, starting on Interstate-85, beginning next year.

Each of the current, I-85 HOV lanes, between Spaghetti Junction in DeKalb County and Old Peachtree Road in Gwinnett County -- the north-bound HOV lane and the south-bound HOV lane -- will become an electronic toll lane, a High Occupancy Toll, or "HOT," lane.

But not everyone will have to pay the toll.

Here's the deal:

Any driver with three or more people in the vehicle -- that's the driver and at least two passengers -- will not have to pay. Those drivers will be able to use the new toll lane for free.

So, by late summer or early fall of 2011, anyone will be able to use the inside lane, north of Spaghetti Junction, in both directions.

But if there are fewer than three people in your vehicle, you will pay a toll when you're in that inside lane.

There won't be any toll booths.

It'll all be electronic. Automatic.

"Everybody that uses the lane will have to register and get a transponder" installed in each vehicle, said Teri Pope, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Pope said she is still learning, herself, the technical capabilities of the new system and how it will know not to charge you if there are three or more people in your vehicle.

There will be new enforcement cameras on I-85 every quarter-mile, and she said that the cameras will be linked, somehow, electronically, to the transponder in your vehicle. Combined with police patrols, Pope said they'll know who to charge, and when -- and also who to ticket.

Toll rates aren't decided, yet. But you'll automatically pay more to use the toll lane during rush hour.

"It's like the old law of supply and demand," Pope said. "If the normal lanes are really congested and full, like on a Friday afternoon, it'll cost you more to ride I-85 [in the HOT lane] northbound than it would [in the HOT lane] southbound."

"If I can get down the road faster for a dollar, I'll jump in that lane, if I'm by myself in the car," said Alexis Sanderson, who drives a delivery truck up and down that stretch of I-85 several times each weekday.

Sanderson wonders what will happen if everybody else does that.

"More people are going to do the same thing, so it's going to cause more congestion in that lane, which, again will slow up more traffic."

In fact, Georgia DOT hopes to minimize congestion in the toll lane through pricing. As more vehicles move into the lane, the toll escalates. The price will instantly, temporarily, go up, and up some more, compelling drivers to avoid the higher tolls by clearing out of the lane, making room for the vehicles that have three or more people in them (that are traveling in the lane for free).

Prices will automatically go back down at the times of the day when fewer drivers would want to use the toll lanes.

Some parents like Rose Paul don't like that they'll have to pay for what is now a free HOV lane for one parent and one child.

"I bring my children with me so that I can get into the HOV lane and get out of traffic," Paul said. "But if it's just two people, I don't think it's fair to charge. I don't."

The DOT says "managed lanes" to reduce traffic congestion are probably here to stay. The I-85 test will, if successful, lead to all the other HOV lanes in Metro Atlanta becoming HOT lanes.

"The difference," Pope said, "really, is -- an option to choose to pay, in order to, by yourself, get into that lane."

The State Road and Tollway Authority will manage the distribution of transponders and the collection of tolls.

The DOT has not released any estimates, yet, of how much money will be raised from the tolls, but does plan to spend the tolls on interstate maintenance.

In July, Georgia DOT will receive bids from contractors; DOT hopes to have a contractor hired and the work underway by August, and expects the conversion from HOV lane to HOT lane will be completed in one year.

The project is expected to cost $140 million.

The state received a $110 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation for the project. GA DOT is spending $30 million of state gas tax money on the project.

The $140 million project also involves doubling the size of the Park and Ride lot at I-985 and Georgia Highway 20, building a new Park and Ride lot at I-85 and Hamilton Mill Rd., and buying at least 30 more buses for GRTA, the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority.

Installation of the sensors, circuitry, cameras and other aspects of the conversion will take place at nights and weekends to minimize disruption.

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